Black Panther: Wakanda Forever takes Shuri on a major journey as she battles with grief and internal moral conflict.
The highly anticipated sequel for Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a smash at the box office, and a wonderful tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman.
The movie was action-packed from start to finish and managed to avoid dodging difficult conversations around grief, colonization of indigenous nations, and internal moral conflict. Specifically speaking, Shuri (Letitia Wright), took center stage on all three fronts—especially the last one.
Shuri’s Denial and Rage
Only one year after the loss of her older brother T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the Wakandans find themselves in the midst of a battle with the Talokanils. Still in denial, Shuri refuses to accept the mantle of Black Panther and the death of her brother, and admits she would rather watch the world burn. She hides in her own work as her people stumble into turmoil and tensions rise only higher.
In the midst of the turmoil and tension, Namor, leader of the Talokanils brutally takes the life of her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett). Shuri finds herself torn apart; and eventually becomes emotionally numb—but set on ending the war between Talokanils and the Wakandans for good. After she works tirelessly to recreate the Heart-Shaped Herb that Killmonger destroyed in the first film. She drinks the synthesized herb and hoped to see one of her family members in the ancestral plane.
But the family is not who she thought: it was her cousin, N’Jadaka, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
Shuri’s denial and the Ancestral Plane
Shocked, and confused, Shuri doesn’t understand why it was Killmonger in the ancestral plane, and not her immediate family. Their conversation centers around the likeness of one another, and how they both seek revenge. Killmonger with seeking revenge for the death of his father, and Shuri seeking the death of Namor who killed her mother.
As she steeps further in denial that she is nothing like her cousin, her surroundings in the ancestral plane burn in a violent fire—just like she wanted to do earlier in the film. She snaps out of the ancestral plane filled to the brim with unchecked grief that manifested itself into rage, and abandonment by her family.
But when taking a deeper look, Shuri spent the majority of the film consumed by revenge and retribution—the two things that fueled Killmonger in the first film. The ancestral plane shows a reflection of yourself. It is worth noting that in her entire family line, she was the only one besides Killmonger, who sought out death as a form of revenge. So to see Killmonger wasn’t too out of left field.
Understanding Shuri’s rage and where it comes from
Shuri ultimately resembles the rage of Killmonger but the likeness and heart of her late brother T’Challa. In the final battle, between her and Namor, she resembles the rage of her cousin Killmonger—seeking nothing but revenge through immense rage with every strike in that fight. However, her likeness of her older brother shines through as she was faced with the chance to end Namor and get the revenge she was desperately seeking; yet, she spares him.
It was at this exact moment that she saw her late mother in the ancestral plane, and a wave of relief and comfort washes over her.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters.